Miracle at Johnston Square

The Martin de Porres Center serves as an inspiring model of what we can all do to provide better housing for our citizens.  This St. Ambrose project converted a former school building into modern apartments for twelve families in 1980.  The project “confirmed our faith in the unlimited potential of human effort and cooperation.” 1

Long a depressed area, the Johnston Square community was in desperate need of affordable family housing. We worked closely with members of the community and came up with the idea to renovate the nearby Martin de Porres School, a 130-year-old building that had been closed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1978. After being approached with our plan to renovate the school the Archdiocese agreed to donate the building.

Starting with a successful bake sale sponsored by the Johnston Square community, we launched a campaign to raise money for the enormous construction costs.  We received substantial financial support from the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, the federal government, and USF&G Insurance, and many other partners.

Employing more than 25 local Johnston Square residents, construction crews completed the renovations in nine months. Because of the gracious help and cooperation of all these concerns, twelve families, selected by representatives from the community, moved into the new Martin de Porres Center in February of 1982.

“The Martin de Porres conversion is an excellent example of what can be achieved by cooperative efforts involving the community, government, the church, and private industry. Under the creative and dedicated leadership of St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, a vacant building that had traditionally served the community has been recycled to provide much needed housing for the East Baltimore community. Baltimore can be proud of the Center’s accomplishments.”      -Former Mayor Wiliam Donald Schaefer

Click on the photos below to see the construction process.

1 Quote from St. Ambrose pamphlet on Martin de Porres transformation

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